Distinction Tracks

Distinction tracks are educational paths that help students at the College of Medicine pursue interests in bilingual medical Spanish, community service, global health, integrative medicine, leadership and innovation in healthcare, medical education, research or rural health. These tracks integrate with the basic College of Medicine curriculum, and enrich it through special clinical, academic and research opportunities.

Students who complete a distinction track within the MD program have this achievement recorded in their transcript and Deans Letters. The eight distinction tracks have different requirements, but all require that students be in good academic standing.

First and second-year medical students who want to pursue a distinction track should contact the track director and the Dean of Student Affairs.

Distinction Track Elective Course Overview

Bilingual Medical Spanish Distinction Track
The Bilingual Medical Spanish Distinction Track is a longitudinal program designed to enhance the medical Spanish communication skills of medical students entering with an existing advanced proficiency level. Instructional activities offered throughout the four years of medical school emphasize the development of:

  • Oral/Aural proficiency in medical Spanish
  • Cultural competence
  • Core medical competencies

The primary goal of the program is to graduate cohorts of physicians who are competent to work as bilingual English-Spanish healthcare providers. Students enrolled in this track will be better prepared to serve the healthcare needs of Spanish-speaking patients, and perhaps have an advantage in applying to residency programs located in communities with a growing Spanish-speaking population.


Community Service Distinction Track
A student who wishes to receive Community Service Distinction Track needs to participate in the Commitment to Underserved People (CUP) program. The CUP I elective must be completed in the Preclerkship years of medical school, followed by the completion of the CUP II elective in the final years of the program (90 hours per CUP elective).  Students are required to write a 10 page reflective and cited paper related to a health or social disparity issue encountered during this service. The topic of this paper needs to be approved by the director of the distinction track


Global Health Distinction Track
The Global Health Distinction Track introduces students to the inter-disciplinary challenges of clinical and community health care in low and middle-income countries (LMIC). Students will:

  • Apply medical knowledge to health care situations around the world
  • Learn from colleagues and global health experts abroad
  • Practice rigorous, evidence-based medicine
  • Overcome obstacles to health care in resource-constrained conditions

Students become better prepared to advocate for health equity and to provide care to patients and communities in Arizona, the United States, and around the world.  The requirements for students to graduate with distinction in Global Health are:

  • Year 1: Global Health Externship consisting of 2 parts: (1) 6 1-hour sessions and (2) an international rotation.
  • Year 2: Participation in the Global Health Interprofessional Education event.
  • Clerkship Year: Participation in global health sessions held during Intersessions 1 & 2.
  • Year 4:  3 courses – Global Health Intensive Course (classroom or online); Global Health Clinical Preceptorship (international rotation); Capstone Project (an evidence-based synthesis paper).

Directors: Jerome Koleski, MD and Sommer Aldulaimi, MD
Coordinator: Diane Poskus


Integrative Medicine Distinction Track
Integrative Medicine Distinction Track is healing-oriented medicine that takes into account the whole person, including all aspects of lifestyle.  It emphasizes the therapeutic relationship between practitioner and patient, is informed by evidence, and makes use of all appropriate therapies.  Students in the Integrative Medicine Distinction Track will receive an introduction to the vast set of integrative medicine modalities available for use with their patients, while operating within the conventional medical system. Interactive online modules, didactic special topics sessions, patient conferences, and the Healer’s Art program are just some of the opportunities students will have in the track. Partnership with the College of Medicine’s Integrative Medicine Club meets student interests and provides a richer experience for all.  


Leadership and Innovation in Healthcare Distinction Track

The Leadership and Innovation in Healthcare Distinction Track will provide the student a structured, yet flexible, faculty-mentored experience to explore many facets of healthcare education, administration, finance, delivery, and policy. It will draw upon the expertise of leaders from the colleges of the University of Arizona Main Campus, Arizona Health Sciences Center, and the community, including the Healthcare Transformation Institute. This program will ensure that these select future providers achieve competencies in health leadership and advocacy, and in addition to patient care, will assume critical roles as a generation of physician leaders in healthcare innovation. The curriculum includes multiple courses throughout the medical school program and faculty mentoring.


Medical Education Distinction Track
The Medical Education Distinction Track helps students who are interested in pursuing careers in medical education to develop knowledge and experience in both the theory and the practice of education. The program offers students a strong background in education, giving them a head start to teaching during residency. The track’s curriculum includes required core coursework, elective coursework, and a capstone project and presentation in Year 4.  Each student in the track is matched with a faculty mentor who will meet with the student for all four years in the program. Every student will maintain a reflective journal related to his or her experiences in medical education through their four years in the program.


Research Distinction Track
The Research Distinction Track offers students the opportunity to explore medical research while attending medical school. This track is designed to engage medical students at the forefront of scientific medicine in their own research interests.  Students in this track will:

  • Critically review published medical literature
  • Design and implement an extensive research proposal
  • Author reports and publishable articles
  • Experience the scientific method as a process, not an abstraction

Students who complete this distinction track are equipped to stand at the forefront of medicine as scientific physicians.  In doing so, they will contribute in meaningful ways to improving the quality of health care in our region, nation, and world.


Rural Health Distinction Track
Building upon College's nationally-recognized Rural Health Professions Program (RHPP), this track fosters students' passion for rural healthcare. RHPP requirements are prerequisites for this distinction track, including the "Issues in Rural Health" seminar course and summer clinical experience.

Throughout their four years at the College of Medicine, students participating in the Rural Health Distinction Track will spend a minimum of 16 weeks working with assigned preceptors in rural communities across Arizona. As a result of their extended experience, students learn first-hand the rewards and challenges of providing healthcare in a rural setting. Students can customize their participation by selecting among three areas of concentration:

  • American Indian healthcare 
  • Border healthcare
  • Rural Arizona healthcare

In addition to clinical activities, students will write a researched, referenced capstone paper on an issue related to rural healthcare.